Honors | Why Do We Care? The American Tradition of Philanthropy (HON)
H304 | 31447 | Les Lenkowsky
In 2009, a year in which the United States economy was emerging from
one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression, one
in every 50 dollars produced by Americans was donated to charities –
totaling more than $300 billion. Nearly 63 million Americans over
the age of 16 volunteered, 26.3 percent of the population. Within a
month after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, more than three-
quarters of a billion dollars had been donated for the relief effort
in the United States, about as much as was contributed after the
attacks of September 11, 2001 in a comparable period of time.
Examples of American generosity such as these are not hard to find
and usually stand in sharp contrast to how people in other countries
behave. This course will examine why Americans care as much as they
seem to, the various ways in which philanthropy in the United States
occurs, what it has accomplished, and the challenges it faces.
Readings will be drawn from a wide range of humanities and social
science disciplines and a comparative perspective used to highlight
significant differences (and similarities) with other countries.
Students will be expected to complete an original term paper or
project on an aspect of American philanthropy, as well as write